07 July, 2016

Isaiah 45:22—“Look unto Me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth …”


Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else (Isa. 45:22 KJV).


COMMON GRACE ARGUMENT:
This text is often suggested to mean that the command to “look unto God and be saved” indicates God’s pleasure that all be savedan earnest, ardent (albeit ineffectual and unfulfilled) desire of God that absolutely all men generally and absolutely be saved.



(I)

Herman Hoeksema (1886-1965)


If I preach in my congregation: I promise ten dollars to all who have no work and are in need, if they come to me, then that is a general proclamation of a particular promise. The proclamation is general, the promise is particular. It is a particular offer … When God calls: O all ye that thirst come to the waters, then this is proclaimed in general, but the promise concerns only the elect … And since it is God Himself who must work the true [thirst], it is as plain as day that all these passages basically concern only the elect.


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(II)

Herman Hoeksema (1886-1965)


In the first place, we do not have here an offer, but a calling and a promise which is completely limited by the content of the calling. “Look unto me,”—that is the calling. That is altogether different from an offer. And note carefully that it is God, the Lord of heaven and earth, who has created the heavens and formed the earth and made it, who is the Lord, and there is no God beside Him (vv. 18, 21), who here calls. And when He calls, then no creature has the right to neglect that calling, to cast it to the winds, to despise it, to act as if He does not call. The creature must answer. He must say Yes or No. For God is GOD. And the idols are no gods. “Look unto me” means: “Turn away from the idols, forsake them, and bow down before Me in the acknowledgement that I alone am God, and that there is none beside Me.” And then the creature says, “Yes, Lord, Thou alone art God,” or he says, “No, Lord, I will never acknowledge Thee,” and, “Yes, idol, thou art my God.” And in both instances God is justified when He judges. He judges concerning the first: be saved; and over the second: be accursed! There is no offer whatsoever in the text, therefore.

Precisely because God is GOD, He can never offer anything. Offering is not a divine work. He who says that God offers something does not know God, reduces God to an idol! What we do indeed have in the text is: calling and promise. The text is thoroughly particular in its content. Expressed dogmatically, the text intends to say: “He who looks unto me shall be saved: for I am God, and there is none beside Me!” But I will go even further. I will also deny that the general element which [is popularly thought to be in the text], as though here salvation is offered or promised to all men, head for head and soul for soul, is altogether missing from it. [Those who would promote the notion of a well-meant offer of grace and salvation on the part of God to all men wish] to make of the text an offer, and to make of “all the ends of the earth” all men. And in both instances [they do] violence to Scripture. Not only do the words “all the ends of the earth” surely not mean all men, but also in the light of the context they cannot possibly mean that.

Notice that the following context also very plainly teaches that God does not only call all the ends of the earth, but that all the ends of the earth also actually come and are saved. For the chapter continues as follows in the immediate context: “I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, that unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.” And that this is intended in the saving sense appears plainly from the immediately following verse (24): “Surely, shall one say, in the Lord have I righteousness and strength: even to him shall men come.” The ends of the earth, therefore, also come. From the east and west and north and south they look unto the Lord. And they are also saved. Now, is that all men? Certainly not, for at the end of verse 24 we read: “and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed.” And if then you finally ask: but who then are these ends of the earth which look unto the Lord and are saved by the almighty word of righteousness that is gone out of His mouth? Then verse 25 tells us that all the seed of Israel is meant: “In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.” And if [the advocate of the general, well-meant offer] understands prophecy and is not a Chiliast, then he will grant me that “the ends of the earth” and “every knee and tongue” mean the same as “all the seed of Israel” … But “the ends of the earth” never mean all men. This is not even true if you should understand verse 21 as referring only to the external call. It was still eight hundred years after this word was spoken by the mouth of the prophet Isaiah that even that external call, in so far at least as it goes forth through the preaching of the gospel, came to all the ends of the earth. And even thereafter it did not go forth to all men. There is, therefore, no single respect in which the explanation which [the advocate of the well-meant offer] wants to give of this text holds good … There is no offer; the entire context is very particular.


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(III)

Rev. Matthew Winzer

[Source: “Murray on the Free Offer: A Review,” in The Blue Banner, vol. 9, issue 10–12, (October/December 2000), p. 18.]

Isaiah 45:22

Isaiah 45:22, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth,” is referred to by the report as expressing “the will that all should turn to him and be saved. What God wills in this sense he certainly is pleased to will. If it is his pleasure to will that all repent and be saved, it is surely his pleasure that all repent and be saved.”48

That the text expresses “the will that all should turn to him and be saved,” there can be no debating; for the word should speaks of the obligation to turn and be saved. Likewise, there can be no debating with the ensuing sentence: “What God wills in this sense he certainly is pleased to will.” For, as was stated in the context of the report’s introduction, God’s preceptive will is the duty which He is pleased to oblige men to. But somehow the report adds 1 to 1 and, instead of arriving at 2, suggests that the answer is 11. For the next sentence says: “If it is his pleasure to will that all repent and be saved, it is surely his pleasure that all repent and be saved.”

The conclusion is inconsistent with what was premised. It was premised that God wills that all should turn to Him and be saved, not that God wills that all turn to Him and be saved. As with the introduction of the report, there is here discovered an inability to distinguish between obligation and futurition. The conclusion that it is God’s will and pleasure that all repent and be saved, is a will and pleasure for the futurition of the event, and predicates something of the decretive aspect of God’s will. The correct conclusion, given the premises of the syllogism, would thus have been: it is surely his pleasure that all should repent and be saved.

Thus restricting the preceptive will to the realm of obligation, the report would have been delivered of the error of asserting two contradictory things with regard to God’s will. As it stands, however, it has said that God both wills and does not will that all be saved. It is to no avail to name one of these wills preceptive whilst accrediting to it a decretive nature. Such a procedure only serves to confuse the issue.


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FOOTNOTES:

48. Collected Writings of John Murray, vol. 4 (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1982), p. 127.


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(IV)

More to come! (DV)



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